Experiential learning – prison visits

28th January 2015 - by

Prison Visit - Experiential learning
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Over the last 2 Christmases I have had the privilege of taking groups into large London prisons to provide music for the Christmas family visiting hours – a fantastic learning opportunity for us all.


The groups were made up of young people and ‘educators’, including volunteers, chaplains, youth workers and teachers. The days began with preparation and the reading of a gospel passage and ended with a debrief and prayer, encouraging participants to consider what they had learned in terms of faith, justice and peace. As you can see from the participants’ reflections below, it was a thought-provoking experience – and one I hope to offer to more groups next year.

Parish youth minister:
“When I took some young people along to the prison to play and sing I was expecting them to have some kind of transformative experience but I wasn’t anticipating that I would.”

Trainee teacher:
“In the days following the visit to the prison I found myself thinking a lot about what it means to be free, and to have freedom taken from you.”

Salesian youth worker:
“Spending time in the presence of the women and their families really challenged me to sit up and take notice. How do we respond to those who are imprisoned, who struggle, who find it difficult to celebrate?”

Priest and university lecturer:
“One of the great things about doing an action together is the support that we can get from being part of a community during the action, even if the community only lasts for a day. Together we are stronger, together we can do great things.”

Youth club volunteer:
“I’d expected to sit uncomfortably within a neat “us” and “them” divide but instead, I felt that everyone shared in an unusual but intimate Christmas experience with each other, entering into the same Christmas spirit of joy and love.”